Principle over Politics? The Domestic Policy of the George H. W. Bush Presidency

By Richard Himelfarb; Rosanna Perotti | Go to book overview

Questions and Answers

Joan Hoff, Moderator. I think we can take a few minutes for some questions. I hope we get more questions than you perceived in 1973, Robert, but first we will open up discussion among the panelists themselves. Boyden?

C. Boyden Gray: If I could just make a couple of remarks. I think Bill, you’re absolutely right. I learned something that I didn’t know about Lee Atwater and his affection for Boston Harbor. Obviously, he must have had affection for it; otherwise it wouldn’t have been used, and used so successfully. It is a tragedy that that lesson was forgotten in 1992, and I hadn’t really pieced it together.

Another one of the things that I was perhaps more closely associated with was the disability issue, and he was very, very grateful to me about my involvement, or very appreciative of the fact, because that had been such a big vote-getter as well. Mike Deland, I think, can attest to that. That was another issue that was all but ignored in the ‘92 election. It’s as though the idea that we would hold our base, so we ran from our base—I mean, we didn’t dance with him who brought us there, or whatever the phrase is.

I have to defend ethanol, because I guess it’s my role in life to defend ethanol. They wanted us to cave. We were inundated at the convention in Houston. Anything I might have done to make it a kinder, gentler convention—I probably couldn’t have done it anyway—was drowned out by corn growers coming in and out of my ears. Roger, I can’t remember what it was like. You can remember what it was like. I mean, every midwestern governor, congressman, senator—Archer Daniels and Dwayne Andreas were working overtime. So we tried to fashion something, which we put into a regulation, which was immediately ripped up—thank God!—by President Clinton, who didn’t think it was enough. And so they put it in a really, truly outrageous ethanol mandate which, thank God for the Reagan-Bush appointees on the D.C. Circuit, that was ripped up in a nanosecond when it got to the D.C. Circuit. So we were spared, thank God, by the Reagan-Bush judges, for whom I will naturally take some credit. So it didn’t happen. As much as we tried, it didn’t happen.

As for RFG, the cost was estimated at 15 to 18 cents a gallon during the Clean Air Act deliberations; I think it’s more like 1 or 2 cents a gallon, but whatever it turns out to have been, it’s cheaper per ton than what the previous regime was, which was loading it all on the poor, benighted car. And car companies, or us as consumers who buy cars, were paying—are paying—$20,000, $30,000, $40,000 a ton for nox and VOC control. RFG at least got this down to the hundreds, if not the low thousands. Any further complaints by the oil industry, it seems to me, can be simply, easily taken care of by demanding a trading system in this arena like we have in acid rain so the marketplace can tell us what the true cost is, and if the cost is too high, the arbitragers—the market guys like you—will eliminate the discon

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